For thousands of years, ceramics have been an integral part of mankind's existence. Its reach extends from its original use as building materials for homes all the way to heat shielding for space vehicles reentering Earth's atmosphere. Few other materials can claim the wide variety of uses to which ceramics have been put in the lives of people. It lets natural light into homes through windows, keeps homes from being dark at night with glass light bulbs and makes floors easy to walk on with ceramic tiles. This material is so versatile that people even eat off it when it is fashioned into plates. It is also a highly prized material for artists.